A Travellerspoint blog

May 2010

The return to Alice...

lots of lunches, cake, friends and cocktails...you just cant get any better.

After the joyous 24hour train ride take2 (during which i read - A LOT! and treated myself to renting a portable dvd player to watch a few films!), i finally got back to Alice Springs...

I'm writing this about 2 hours before i'm due to leave and all i can really think to say is HOW much fun i've had here.

Stayed with some friends and made loads more - all of whom have been amazingly welcoming, friendly, super duper fun and laughter filled.

I've had a relaxing few weeks - Got to see a few more amazing spots around Alice, enjoy living in a proper house, with proper bed and kitchen, eat lots of lovely food and have some great nights out with my new firm friends!

I also managed to score 3 days cash in hand work waitressing - which was great for the wallet...but somewhat of a shock to the system given that i've not worked in 6-7 months!!

I'm flying to cairns today to get a flight to Singapore then Bali tomorrow to be reunited with the Swedes (wohooooo!!)

Can't quite believe i'm leaving Oz after so long - it has been so incredible...i can't help but feeling i'll be back at some point. But i'm leaving with a few new adopted aussie sayings and apparently a bit of an oz twang on some words! Haha!

Love to all xxxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 21:47 Comments (1)

Bush camping, jumping crocs & a seriously long train ride!


View East Coast Fun on Lucy Hood's travel map.

So, after a great night out with our tour group, the three of us spent our last day in Alice hanging out at our tour guides house having a good old aussie barbie (no shrimps were thrown on though i'm afraid Dad!). We then got the train to Darwin at 6 in the evening....but this is no ordinary train journey...oh no.
..We wouldn't be getting to Darwin until 6.30 the FOLLOWING evening...so we settled on down to enjoy 24 hours of train riding fun...and it actually was!

We were obviously in the cheap seats..so no platinum sleeper carriages for us - but the seats reclined loads and there was heaps of room..and even a shower (which Tobey insisted on using just for the novelty value!). We'd stocked up on food, books and crosswords and had a jolly old time watching the wilderness whizz on by, the slept till the one stop at 9 in the morning! In Katherine we had a few hours to stretch our legs and wander round the town (there wasn't much to see!), then we were back on the train up to Darwin.

I'm not going to lie...i was glad to see the back of the train in the end, but it was a pretty cool adventure to travel 1500km through the outback. (And if i was ready to see hte balc of the train...just imagine what the people who'd got on it in Adelade felt like who got on the day before us nearly 3000km ago!)..

Our first day in Darwin we just spent wandering around (in the stupidly hot heat and humidity!). Had a look round the shops and water front - but no swimming allowed is we were in prime salt water croc territory!

The following day we went on a day tour of Litchfield national park. It started with a crocodile cruise...to begin with i thought i would have seein it all before on the tour i went on in Cairns...but OH no!! Rather than looking at crocs which might as well have been fake just sat motionless on the bank, on this tour they dangled raw meat over the side...naturally.

I tell you, it is a whole different ball game when you suddenly see a huge wild croc or 2 swim rapidly towards the boat to about 8 ft from you... and then they start waving the meat around on the end of a string, generally trying to piss the croc off as much as possible. And it works. The jump out of the water like you wouldn't imagine - it was amazing, if a little nervewracking!!! I've got some video's i'll try and put on here...though you'll have to put up with listening to mine and Lina's squealing!

On the rest of the tour we saw some crazily huge termite mounds, loads of beautiful waterfalls and got to swim in some cool waterholes. We then headed back to the city to the famous Mindil beach night markets which were amazing! Loads of amazing stalls and food all along the beach, with a little jazz band playing as the sun set. It was awesome!

The next day Lina and Tobey left to head for the west coast...so it was a rather emotional goodbye...but i'll be seeing them again soon!

I now really was on my own!!! I spent the next few days just relaxing by the pool, reading a lot and generally chilling out deciding where to go next! I ended up making friends with some french girls in my room who were lovely! They'd in turn made friends with some french guys who had a car and were going to head to Kakadu National Park for a few days and they invited me along...

On every other part of my travels in oz i'd done things like this on an organised tour so it was great to do it differently - a definate adventure! They had tents and camping gear, so we just headed to the supermarket to stock up on food and off we headed for an outback adventure!

Kakadu is about 3 hours from Darwin and as far as i'm aware is the biggest national park in australia...it's the size of Slovinia and half the size of Switzerland!!

We left for the park in the afternoon so by the time we got there we just had time to get to our camp and pitch the tents before the sun started going down. The campsite had...well..a bench and drop toilet and that was about it. We collected some fire wood, built ourselves a little campfire, made dinner, had a few drinks then went to bed in preperation for a full day tomorrow!

After packing up camp we headed off for a 6k walk to some pools and waterfalls which were beautiful...and we saw some pretty impressive spiders on the way! After that we drove a bit further beofre walking for another hour or so to see some aboriginal art work in some caves.

We then set off for our second nights camping. The boys kindly gave us their airbeds so we slept a lot better...but while we were sat having dinner we got eaten alive by ants so we woke up the next morning well rested but seriously itchy! Also while we were having dinner we heard some howling dingoes in the distance!!

This morning we drove to see the best waterfall ever with a huge lagoon we could swim in (most of the other spots and water holes had crocs but this one was safe). After a very welcome swim we wnet for a short but seriously steep hike to the top of the huge waterfall where there was this amazing sequence of pools which all ran into each other before going over the top of the cliff intot he massive lagoon we'd been swimming into earlier. It was the most incredible spot. None of my photos did it justive but i stole some of the french guys photos so luckily i'll be able to remember it properly and show it to you!

Once we'd dried off we started back on our long drive to Darwin so a seriously looked forward to shower!

My last day in Darwin i relaxed by the pool again and headed to the library to do a few bits and bobs including planning the next part of my trip which involved booking my train back to Alice Springs to stay with some friends for a while...oh yes, 24 hours of train riding fun again but this time on my own!! Clearly i'd not seen the back of that train after all!

xxxxxxxxxxxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 21:37 Comments (0)

The red centre...pure magic.

Hikes, sleeping under the stars and THAT rock.


View East Coast Fun on Lucy Hood's travel map.

Let the new adventures begin...

We (Lina, Tobey and I) waved goodbye to Cairns and hopped on a flight to Alice Springs...smack bang in the middle of Oz...with a huge amount of nothing surrounding it.

After having a wander round the 'city' we headed back to our hostels for an early night in prep for the early start. Because I booked separately to the others, we ended up in different hostels...and I ended up having one of those nights in a dorm room that make me LOVE the hostel life. Me and 3 girls I'd never met ended up chatting and gossiping till late, laughing seriously hard! To add to the excitement we suddenly spotted a tiny (about 4cm) frog (later named Henry) in the middle of the room that proceeded to hop around like crazy under my bed and into my bag! After much hilarity, the very quiet korean girl in our room just hopped out of bed, scooped Henry up and put him out the window.

We got picked up at 5.45 by Bob the bus to start our 3 day tour. There was a great group of 18 of us.

Our first stop - after a long drive - was Kings Canyon, where we did a big hike and water hole swim and started to learn a lot about the Aboriginal culture. After a quick stop to collect fire wood in the bush, we set off to our first camp stop in the middle of the bush. We built our fire, put our swag bags (our beds for the night) around it, and settled down to make dinner on the fire.

After a great feed and a quick briefing about what to do if we wake up to find a dingo or snake in the camp, we settled down for our first nights sleep under the stars.

The next day we were up and breakfasted by 6.30 and heading off to our next stop - Kata Tjuta...an area of 36 weathered rock domes estimated to be 500 million years old. We did another amazing walk here and learnt more about the geological background to the rocks as well as the aboriginal stories around them.

After lunch we headed for our first look at Uluru...and it was un-bel-ievable.

We did part of a base walk, learning loooads. We then headed to the sunset viewing spot and all stood in awe as the rock changed colour abut 100 times while the sun went down and we had dinner. We then headed to our second nights camp stop - a proper sight this time...with proper toilets (the joy!!).

After building fire number two, we sat around on our swag bags and soon the discussions got to sharing our most embarrassing moments. And so started possibly the most entertaining story EVER from this crazy dutch girl. She'd been driving us mad all day with really stupid questions so it was a joy to be able to laugh at her! I honestly thought i'd pulled some sort of muscle. As for the contents of the story...i think i'll save that for another time...all i'll say is that it involved her accidentally going to the toilet...well, no where near a toilet.

We got up at 4.30ish the next morning to go and eat breakfast while watching the sunrise over the rock. Heaven.

We then did the whole 9km base walk around the whole rock..and I nearly fainted when we bumped into Carrie and Sam!!! There flight from Sydney got cancelled due to the volcanoe so they decided to stay a few weeks longer. I'd known that they were planning on doing a tour, but not when we were doing one. We all got a bit teary with how amazing it was - it just made the place all the more magical!

After a piece of cake back at Bob the bus, it was time to head back towards Alice, via a few short stops at a salt lake and camel farm (where i rode a camel...possibly the most giggle inducing activity ever!).

Back at Alice I had the most welcome shower of all time...and imagine my delight when i realised i was sharing it with Henry the frog (or one of his friends...it was hard to tell!)

The whole group went out for dinner that night to celebrate one seriously successful trip. An awesome time all round.

Photos....:
www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=325605&id=223406896&l=efb027332b

Posted by Lucy Hood 20:15 Comments (0)

Going Solo on my final east coast stint


The day after the amazing, if a little scary boat trip, it was time to say goodbye to Carrie and Sam. We'd had the most incredible time together that saying goodbye was always going to be tough...luckily it was at about 6 in the morning so we were all a bit too tierd to get tooo teary!

And so i was on my own...

Luckily I had Tobey and Lina ( the friends we'd made on the boat) and they were going up to Cairns too so I was to stay with them for the forseeable future.

Had a few days relaxing around Airlie beach, meeting up with some other friends I'd made further down the coast and generally having a very chilled time. Sadly the rain kicked in for a few days - and there wasn't a huge amount to do - other than eat and read!

My bus was booked up for a while, so Lina and Tobes went on ahead to Cairns and I had a few extra days in Airlie, hanging out with the guys we'd met at the Cattle Station (bonded over laughing at people flying off the bucking bronco!). These were the few days I got to act like a teenager again because the boys haven't gone to uni yet an so ensued days filled with childish games and generally being very silly. It was AWESOME!

We all left Airlie Beach together and had to have a compulsory stop on Magnetic Island which was loads of fun. Unfortunately from Airlie beach upwards you can't swim in the sea because of Crocs so there was no more swimming for us. We went for a walk along the beach though...apart from spotting an enourmous severed fish head...our minds went into over drive about what could have eaten the rest of it so got off the beach pretty pronto!

After a night on Magnetic I said goodbye to the boys and...feeling rather delicate...had a lovely long bus journey up to Cairns to be reunited with lina and tobey. A day made all the more enjoyable by the fact our bus broke down - hurrah!!! Luckily they sent a replacement after about 2 hours and we were on our way again to Cairns. Via a quick stop where i got to hold a snake. Whoop!

Cairns was a pretty cool city...though the rain joined us again for quite a bit of it as they were coming out of their rainy season. Still had a fab time though. I went on a day trip to Cape Tribulation - a world heritage sight as it is where the Great Barrier Reef meets the Rainforest.

Had a great day going on a croc cruise and doing walks thought the forest etc. Spotted a few crocs but they just sat on the bank looking rather fake!

While in cairns we also went on a day boat trip out to the Reef for some snorkelling. We all managed to get upgraded for some reason so ended up on a very swanky boat with afternoon tea, amazing food and sparkelling wine ont he return journey! The snorkelling out on the reef beat all other spots i'd done before on the trip. I just can't begin to describer the colours, coral and fish. It was magical. I kept getting so excited I had to stop - its hard to get excited while your concentrating on breathing through a snorkel. I swallowed too much water every time i smiled and giggled!!

And at this point I'd come to the end of my travelling plans...2 and a half months early!!!

Everything from now on was even MORE of an adventure!!!xxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 21:30 Comments (1)

Sailing fun but scary dramas


View East Coast Fun on Lucy Hood's travel map.

After a fabulous 8 hour bus journey, we fiiiinally arrived in Airlie Beach...which doesn't actually really have a beach, but a fake lagoon pool thingy...but its a lovely spot nonetheless!

It was from here we were going on a 3 day 2 night sailing adventure around the Whitsunday islands. We'd be living on the boat the whole time with about 20 people and 4 crew, doing lots of snorkeling, diving and seeing lots of lovely beaches.

We got on the boat early and set off to our first snorkeling spot and a chance for people to have a go at scuba diving. I was so excited to have a go but i'm ashamed to say i panicked and lasted all of about 3 minutes. The instructor was quite frankly rubbish and i didn't feel confident at all. I WILL have another go another time though! The only bonus was apparently there wasn't much to see at that spot anyway!

We then went to White Haven Beach which was just incredible. The finest whitest sand you've ever seen. We had some snacks and a few beers while watching the sun set then we headed back to the boat for dinner...and so the drama unfolded. I can sound silly about htis now because it all turned out ok in the end - but at the time it was terrifying...not that i showed it. I was trying to be all sensible and look after Sam and Carrie.

So we were back on the boat all relaxing with a beer about to tuck into dinner...no sooner has we all sat down and had one mouthful, Sam said her mouth felt funny. Carrie immediately ran up to the chef to find out what was in the food - and despite us telling them TWICE that sam had a life threatening nut allergy, he'd gone and put peanut butter in the dinner....

To put this in perspective, every time Sam has accidentally eaten nuts in the past, she's ended up in hospital on a drip..and had to get there seriously quickly (as in half an hour or so) before her windpipe closes up.

Carrie told them we had to get her somewhere as quick as possible - but the captain said we were somewhere without any signal and at least 2-3 hours away from medical help.

And so followed possibly the most nerve wracking 2 and a half hour boat journey of my life...and if i think it was bad for me you can only imagine how it was for Sam and Carrie. I just sat with Sam trying to keep her calm, whilst also trying to comfort Carrie who was terrified about what was going to happen to her sister.

Luckily, by some gift from somewhere amazing, although Sam did get worse, it didn't get to her windpipe. We eventually got to an island with a medical centre and they had an ambulance waiting and had called the doctor out. Once i saw her get into the ambulance i got a bit teary with relief...i think we all were.

The Doc said not to go back on the boat tonight, but to stay on land in case it flared up again, but otherwise gave her the all clear. The only room they had was in a posh hotel, so the three of us stayed there which was a bit of a silver lining...but i think we'd all agree we'd have preferred not to go through that and sleep on a cramped boat instead!

Still...it all came good in the end and the next morning we were back on the boat ready to make up for a scary day before! And that we did - amazing snorkelling (and anyone who remembered my weird tropical fish obsession will understand how excited i was about this!) and making new friends made everything better.

Two friends in particular were these two swedish people Lina and Tobey who I ended up travelling with after Carrie and Sam left...legends.

Right - reliving the drama has taken it out of me a bit. I'll right another installment much less drama filled later...hopefully tomorrow! I'm on my own and have found a cheap internet spot so all is good!!

Love xxxxx

Posted by Lucy Hood 23:02 Comments (0)

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